Exaggeration of Fear in Education Businesses
Enrolling in cram school might be the reason you fail at exams
Looking at motivational posts, mock test program promos, and other exam prep stuff are like buying a cigarette:
You see these lung cancer pictures — consequence of inaction — but instead of preventing yourself from smoking; the fear derived out of the pictures overwhelms you that your foremost reaction is to relieve it.
How? by smoking.
“You can’t give up.”
“Fight or lose your future.”
Messages along those lines promoted during exam periods are meant to be inspirational.
But for some, they only overwhelm you by implying the negativity of failing, such that your foremost reaction is to relieve that fear of failing.
How? by enrolling in those promising “express courses” that, besides the fact that it may work, only expose you deeper into the pressure.
This problematic phenomenon is two-fold:
The Business of Fear
First, such a phenomenon may actually be intentionally designed that exact way by the business aspects of both cigarette industries and cram schools.
My argument: They are basically selling exaggeration of fear, in exchange for every cash spent by their customers who, while are hoping to relieve their fears, are actually only making themselves more prone to them.
I was, once, one of their victims:
There was this mock test platform that offered very short, time-limited 90 percent discounts for either 20-days or 3-months of subscription for full access to the platform.
I knew they had been doing these promos all the time that even if I missed that one; I was pretty sure I would bump into other similar promos, any other time I go back to the site.
That said, I thought I did really need to do some mock tests, so I went for the 20-days plan.
If I liked it by the end of the plan, they must have already had another promo for the 3-months plan I can subscribe to just easily, so I said to myself.
But just by being a member of the platform had exposed me even deeper into their other promos that were still on: it had only been a day or two but I ended up extending to the 3-months plan; I was too — irrationally — afraid of not being able to get the same offer in the future.
And I had barely done over one mock test set (out of about 60 sets available) by the end of the subscription.
I just remembered at that point that I had a feeling this mock test method wouldn’t work that well for me, and that was the reason I tried out the 20-days.
But fear trumped it all.
That being said, I am not saying cram schools are scams. They are good, meaningful businesses hoping to help students.
But it helps to be aware of their pure business aspect that is trying to grab your cash in any kind of way; even if it supports the companies so it can continue to support you.
It’s not about whether it’s meant for “the good” or “the bad” either.
It is that to succeed in the market, I’d argue, these businesses inevitably require the exaggeration of fear.
And while your own fear may still be under your own control, being unaware of this allows that fear being also in whether intentionally or unintentionally, other people’s control.
When Fear is Unnecessarily Excessive
The second, more profound fold of this problem is that excessive fear of failing an exam (a tiny — and often turn out to be negligible — fraction of one’s entire life) is by itself problematic.
Life isn’t linear, and failure is an inherent property of any complete life.
Many of us neglect the role of luck in success; while cram schools, motivational quotes, and mock test program promos seem to put too much responsibility on your shoulders alone.
While they might be a good guarantee to keep yourself on your feet, mindlessly working hard, while neglecting the power of luck and failure, lets you down more than it succeeds you.
Generations before us might not have the same privilege as us to access the infinite amount of information these days.
But perhaps the nice thing about them was that they probably didn’t need to face this much exposure to fear — which is most likely exaggerated by our education businesses today.
My dad has always said how not of a big deal their college entrance exam was: they studied on their own, did it exceptionally ordinarily, and everything just sorted itself out.
And if this exaggeration of fear is true, then that might be the reason students end up saying, “Screw it!” instead of studying harder.
They’re like smokers who end up smoking more to relieve their fears about the lung cancer pictures printed on their cigarette packages.
All that said, it is very important to reemphasize that while the problem may do lie in the business aspects of our education; it has never been these businesses’ fault.
It’s just… inevitable.
And the answer to the problem — at least the practical one — lies within ourselves:
To develop awareness, at least towards whatever we are getting ourselves into so that we can have a bit more privacy on what’s under our control, and to live a little smarter.